Winter tires prove to be incredibly useful for handling and traction when roads are laden with snow and ice, helping drivers to travel around in their vehicles comfortably.
But if you don’t feel like changing your tires once winter is over – you may be wondering, can winter tires be used in summer? Here is everything I have found through my research!
Can Winter Tires Be Used In Summer?
Winter tires should not be used in the summer. Tire manufacturers recommend that vehicle owners replace their winter tires with summer or all-season tires when the temperature goes above 46°F (7 °C). This is because the tires begin to wear out rapidly due to heat and friction.
If you want to know more about how long winter tires last in summer, whether it is okay to leave winter tires on all year, and much more, keep on reading!
How Long Do Winter Tires Last In Summer?
On average, winter tires last for four to five seasons if they are used in winters only.
However, if you use the same winter tires in the summers as well, they will wear out much faster and will no longer be safe to use 3-4 years after installation.
Note that there is no specific ‘lifespan’ or mileage warranty for winter tires since the treadwear heavily depends on the kind and amount of snow you are driving on.
Is It Okay To Leave Winter Tires On All Year?
Although winter tires can be used all around the year in areas where the temperature remains cold, the tires are not designed to be long-lasting or for year-round use.
Winter tires are customized with flexible rubber compounds and unique tread designs to provide a tight grip on icy and snowy roads.
These features negatively affect the tire and vehicle if they are used in warmer temperatures in the following ways:
Tires wear out faster
To increase the amount of grip winter tires provide on icy and snowy roads, a special, ‘softer’ rubber compound is added to the tire’s materials.
This material wears out a lot faster as the temperature goes up and the road gets heated up, resulting in rapid degradation of the tire’s tread.
Fuel consumption goes up
Using winter tires in summers will decrease the fuel efficiency of your vehicle since winter tires produce a lot more friction with the road as compared to summer tires.
Traction and handling suffers
The soft rubber in winter tires will make cornering, acceleration, and braking more difficult when the road does not have any snow or ice.
Additionally, if you use winter tires in the summer, you will have much less tread for the upcoming winter season and so will have a harder time getting through snow, ice, or water.
Is It Legal To Use Winter Tires In The Summer?
States in the U.S. and Canada (even those that face extremely cold temperatures) do not have any laws disallowing the use of winter tires in the summer, so it is legal to do so.
However, they also recommend against this practice since it creates a lot of safety risks for the driver and vehicle.
What Temperature Is Bad For Winter Tires?
Snow tires should be driven only in cold temperatures and when roads are icy. As a general rule, you should shift to summer tires when the temperature goes above 46 F (7.7 C).
If you continue to use your winter tires after that, they will wear out quickly and will be much less effective when the next winter season comes around.
What Is The Difference Between Winter And Summer Tires?
Three core factors distinguish winter tires from summer tires: structure, rubber compound, and tread pattern.
Structure: Winter tires have tiny grooves in their tread blocks which disperse water and snow, preventing accumulation and providing a strong grip on slippery surfaces.
In contrast, summer tires have fewer grooves and smaller tread bars than winter tires since manufacturers have to strike a balance between traction and the rate of wear.
Rubber Compound: Winter tires have a higher natural rubber content which makes tires flexible in the cold, directly improving the grip and handling.
On the other hand, summer tires are made from a harder rubber compound which compromises traction but extends the life of the tires.
Tread pattern: Winter tires have a deep tread pattern that provides a cavity for snow to move through. This gives a better grip along with traction to push the vehicle forward.
Summer tires have a block-shaped tread pattern which gives a large footprint on-road and ensures excellent handling.
To know more about winter tires, you can also read our posts on how long do winter tires last, what are tire socks, how to store winter tires, and if studded tires work.
Winter tires should not be used in the summers and should be swapped with summer tires when the temperature climbs above 46F (7.7C).
If used above this temperature, winter tires tend to wear out faster, reduce the fuel efficiency of the vehicle, and make handling in the next winter even more difficult.